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November 28, 2021
Building a more equitable Downtown

Downtown BOOST Program

Downtown BOOST Program: Presented by Fearless is an initiative created to support the long-term success of creative, Black-owned Baltimore businesses in Downtown storefronts. Scroll down to learn more about the program and how to apply.

Applications are currently closed and will reopen in early 2022.

Bottom Line

By supporting innovative Black-owned businesses, this initiative will address historical and contemporary racial inequities while fostering a more dynamic, safe and vibrant downtown.

These Creative Businesses Stood Out from the Rest

The BOOST Class of 2021

The Black Genius Art Show

The Black Genius Art Show is multi-media creative space and fashion brand owned by Bryan Robinson.


Robinson is an educator and multifaceted media artist born, raised and superhero’d in Baltimore Maryland. Under the motto “Create Everyday,”  Robinson has created hundreds of original illustrations, a collection of garments based off of his unique characters, and has an assortment of animated projects coming down the pipeline. Robinson currently works with school based programs, universities, youth groups, galleries, art initiatives and community based organizations throughout the state. Through BOOST, Robinson will be opening a Gallery space called Genius Guice Studios in Downtown Baltimore, a fully functional art house with amenities. A one stop shop to see, wear, create and experience art. More details coming soon.


Website | Instagram | Facebook 

Codetta Bake Shop

Codetta Bake Shop is a café and bakery specializing in creative desert items owned by Sumayyah Bilal and Christopher Burgess.


As a bakery, Codetta specializes in traditional American-style desserts such as cheesecake, cupcakes, buttercream cakes, ice cream, and other delicious treats. Through BOOST, Codetta is expanding to a full service eatery serving breakfast, lunch, and brunch. Their menu will consist of a combination of sweet and savory items made with high quality ingredients and expert cooking techniques, available for purchase by the local weekday workforce as well as weekend brunch clientele. Codetta is hoping to become a touchstone of service, atmosphere, and high quality food for the
Downtown Baltimore community.


Website | Instagram | Facebook

Elite Secrets Bridal

Elite Secrets Bridal is a bridal design house and boutique owned by LaTonya Turnage.


Elite Secrets Bridal was founded in 2015 with a goal to change the bridal industry. Elite Secrets storefront is currently located in Baltimore’s esteemed Mount Vernon fashion boutique district. Founder LaTonya Turnage has been fundamental to company philosophy, through a combination of expertise and excellent service with style and grace. Elite Secrets leaves pretense to the side, focusing on bringing the best designers and emerging bridal gowns from all over the world to Baltimore Brides. Through BOOST, Elite secrets will open a second location that specializes in showcasing local bridal designers.


Website | Instagram | Facebook

Media Rhythm Institute

Media Rhythm Institute is a hip-hop-inspired media space with a café and educational studio owned by Deverick Murray, Jimmie Thomas, and Tiffany Welch.


As an educational incubator, Media Rhythm Institute develops the next generation of media and entertainment industry professionals through STEAM-based workforce training, academic achievement and industry opportunities. Through BOOST, MRI plans to open a centralized creative entrpreneual hub for emerging artists. Focusing on music, media, and wellness, this creative mixed use space will highlights local art through a retail, production, and performance lens.


Website | Instagram | Facebook


NKVSKIN is a natural beauty company featuring both products and services owned by Nikia Vaughan.


This direct to consumer natural beauty brand offers a complete line of facial skincare products to improve the skin’s appearance and treat common concerns such as acne, hyperpigmentation, and eczema. The Company started in 2018 with a simple facial oil product and has since grown and matured both its product line and skincare educational program. Founder Nikia Vaughan is a recognized servant leader and community advocate with a natural skincare certification and an anticipated 2021 esthetician license. Through BOOST, NKVSKIN will open up a retail location Downtown.


Website | Instagram | Facebook

Apply for the current round of BOOST, or prepare for the future.

Program Application Materials


BOOST Overview Document

This document includes the Program Guidelines with detailed eligibility information, process, timelines, and Frequently Asked Questions. As well as the full Storefront Brochure that includes more information on the available retail spaces.

Learn More

Official BOOST Application

Gather all required materials, download the application, fill out all required forms and then submit your completed application via email to Sam Storey at

Applications Currently Closed

The Who

The Downtown BOOST Program: Presented by Fearless is seeking entrepreneurs that…

  1. Present a strong business plan—Applicants should demonstrate in their application they can successfully execute their concept, as evidenced by financial performance, employment levels, and capital reserves.
  2. Create a broad community impact—Priority will be given to businesses that seek to cross-pollinate with other businesses Downtown and provide signature experiences for both local residents and visitors.
  3. Have original ideas—Businesses must be creative and unique for Downtown Baltimore. Priority will be given to businesses that offer services or products that do not exist anywhere else in Baltimore.
  4. Support Downtown Baltimore’s recovery—Applicants should demonstrate in their application how their store will increase local foot traffic and attract new customers to Downtown Baltimore in the post-COVID economy.

The What

If selected to be a part of the BOOST Program, you will receive…

  • Up to $50,000 in grants to support build-out and operations: Up to $20,000 toward the interior improvements of the retail space, up to $10,000 for exterior improvements and signage, and $20,000 BGE Energizing Small Business Grants. (BOOST grant recipients will also need to apply and qualify for BGE’s Grant Program but will be given priority consideration).
  • An affordable lease at one of 12 storefronts listed in the BOOST Storefront Brochure
  • Robust technical, legal, marketing, zoning and permitting, and accounting support from local partners!

The Why

As in the rest of the country, storefront vacancies have increased in Downtown Baltimore due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Black-owned small business have been most at-risk for closure, and have historically had less access to capital. Additionally, targeted business incentives will ensure Downtown Baltimore’s retail sector has a swift and equitable recovery in 2021.


In order to qualify for the Downtown BOOST Program applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements.

  • Retail businesses that that have been operational and registered with the state of Maryland for at least 1 year, with preference for applicants of color
  • Applicants should currently employ at least 2 employees.
  • Qualifying retail businesses includes any small business that will operate an open, activated storefront in which goods and services are exchanged, including: include food and beverage establishments, clothing stores, markets, and specialty retailers.
  •  Businesses should be currently operating in the Greater Baltimore area, with priority given to those based in Baltimore City.

Current Program Timeline

Applications currently closed. Program relaunch date announcing soon.

Sponsors & Partners

BOOST is Sponsored by Fearless and supported by BGE and M&T Bank. It is also supported by the Baltimore Development CorporationGross, Mendelsohn & Associatesthe City of Baltimore Small Business Resource CenterMaryland Small Business Development CenterVenable LLP, the Greater Baltimore Urban League, and the T.Rowe Price Foundation.

BOOST in the News

Media Rhythm Institute in BBJ

“Media Rhythm Institute’s new space will help prepare young creatives entering the media industry.


Media Rhythm Institute is seeking to change the landscape for aspiring media industry professionals through comprehensive arts education.”


— Alicia Diaz at Baltimore Business Journal

Read More
BOOST in the News

Black Genius Art Show in BBJ

“Bryan Robinson formed his creative brainchild, The Black Genius Art Show,so people could experience his art by buying custom paintings or apparel. The East Baltimore native now wants to expand his vision and create a physical space for fellow local artists to run shows, while he mentors and curates.”


— Alicia Diaz at Baltimore Business Journal

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Black Genius art Show storefront space in Downtown Baltimore.
BOOST in the News

BOOST Winner Announcement

“Five entrepreneurs have been selected to take part in a new incubator program designed to fill empty downtown retail spaces with Black-owned businesses.”


— Ed Gunts at Baltimore Fishbowl

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LaTonya Turnage, of Elite Secrets Bridal, A Downtown BOOST program awardee.
BOOST in the News

BOOST in Baltimore Sun

“With an eye toward increasing Black-owned retail businesses in downtown Baltimore, the Downtown Partnership is launching an initiative that will pair creative Black businesses with vacant storefronts, and connect them with technical, marketing and other expertise.”



Read More
Shelonda Stokes at Downtown Partnership